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The financial world is changing very quickly and the banking landscape in the African region reflects this trend with the emergence of new regional and continental actors which are competing successfully with traditional local banks. The region’s banks are battling to expand and launch new products and distribution strategies enabling them to build market share in previously unreached market space and increase profitability. Consequently, there is an accrual role of digitalization and other innovative technologies in driving and reshaping the service offer of savings and retail banks.
How do WSBI members keep pace with changes in the market requirements?
Some members have adapted successfully to the changes and provide diversified payment products ranging from Mobile payment, Biometric smartcards and point of sale terminals. These products enable banks to improve the transaction processing speed and provide accurate and real time account statements. However, the majority are still facing challenges in becoming a central market player in their respective environment. Such challenges include: institutional form adapted to the market, profitability or sustainability, high cost of innovation tools, weak capitalisation, high cost of borrowing and lack of adequate human capital just to mention a few.
How does WSBI support its members in overcoming these challenges?
Digital and innovative technologies are recognised as the fastest and most promising tool to include the mass market into the formal financial system. This linkage is fairly perceived by the WSBI and illustrated by regular interaction with the financial inclusion stakeholders (Global Partnership on Financial Inclusion, Better than Cash Alliance, European Microfinance Platform etc). Moreover, this year, the topic of digitalisation holds a prominent place in the debates and conferences organised by the WSBI (the Innovation in Payments at the Forefront of Retail Banking conference in Barcelona and Main Street Banking in a digitised world at the WSBI World Congress). Another example is the members’ commitment in the Marrakech declaration of May 2012 to improve access to financial services by providing an “Account for everyone”. In summary, more than 20 years of collaboration within the Regional Group has generated significant achievements in terms of capacity building and advocacy of the voice of the African members with the objective of expanding the services of savings and retail banks to the unbanked population.
This 21s Africa Regional Group meeting will be a great opportunity for WSBI African member banks to take stock of their activities since the last meeting and discuss with practitioners the latest technological and financial trends that are influencing the savings and retail banking sector in the region. We will also deliver the certificate of appreciation to some members in recognition of their particular efforts for the promotion of WSBI.